For critics who have called for the scrapping of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, the lifesaving services performed by corps members in the various communities where they serve have proved them wrong. The scheme has remained as relevant as when it was first initiated by Gen Yakubu Gowon (rtd) in 1973.
For instance, many corps members have used the NYSC Community Development Service, CDS, to render useful services to their host communities and thus improved the social and often economic life of these communities.
One such instance is the CDS initiative by Miss Okuboarere Dortimi Patience, who renovated one block of classroom in a backward community in Baruten LGA of Kwara State. Her example again showed that critics of the scheme have not only missed the point but are obviously making false claims about the lack of relevance of the scheme. Patience’s CDS is one out of the many fine examples of how corps members are demonstrating the relevance of the NYSC scheme.
A graduate of Medical Biochemistry from Delta State University Abraka, Okuboarere, exemplified the spirit of selfless service to the community and jettisoned prejudices as inculcated in her by the NYSC while serving at Kosubosu, a remotely located territory on the Nigeria-Benin border axis.
Yes, a remote community. But she saw needs and became fired on by their yearnings of the people for a sense of belonging and thought she could offer her widow’s mite to uplift the people.
As a remote community, Kosubosu is not only struggling with bare lack of amenities, it is cut-off from modernity in various ways. Take transportation for instance, a trip from Kosubosu to Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital (187 kilometres), or vice versa, takes half a day due to the bad condition of the road.
However, when Miss Okuboarere, a Batch ‘C’ NYSC member, got her posting in 2014 to serve at the Local Government Clinic and Maternity, Kosubosu, she did not object the posting. Better still, she had had a clean record serving at the clinic.
What makes Miss Okuboarere’s case distinctive is that she apparently eliminated the elitist outlook often maintained by some obstinate corps members and came down to the level of the rural dwellers and identified with them in their problems and travails.
For instance, while others chose to carry out their CDS within the semi-urban Kosubosu, Okuboarere opted to carry out her CDS in Sanre, a remotely located rural community, 16 Kilometres away.
Sanre lacks the essentials of modern life. But then, there is a dilapidated block of classrooms used by the pupils of BLGEA Primary School. Of course, she had attended better with all the needed and necessary facilities and therefore felt the pupils deserve at least an atmosphere conducive for learning: such learning environ can’t be possible where the classrooms are in terrible shape, leaking roof, broken doors and windows where they exist and gully floors.
Patience decided to offer some succour. She chose to renovate a block of classroom and the schools concrete signage. The community thought it would be impossible since the local and state governments have repeatedly made them believe that renovating the school would cost a fortune and that the government does not have that kind of resources to expend on the school.
The people wondered where the corps member would generate the ‘stupendous amount’ needed to embark on the project from and easily laughed off her quest. But she was undaunted. She started off determined to open a new chapter in the lives of the pupils by affecting them, conscientising them in whatever positive ways she could using the project.
At last, the hitherto seemingly impossible left the realm of dreams to reality, as sketch became shape and a brand new building came to life.
Speaking during the handing over ceremony, the NYSC member, said she completed renovation project on 13th September 2015 at the cost of N190, 000 (One Hundred and Ninety Thousand Naira), which she realized from free donations from individuals in Baruten LGA. She said the project was to ensure an environment conducive for learning for children in the community.
Asked how she got the inspiration, Miss Okoboarere responded thus: “When I arrived here I observed that children of school age in Kosubosu lacked interest in schooling; and most of the schools were and still are in bad shape. I could not but imagine that the state of public schools in the remote communities around Kosubosu would be worst-off and that the shape the schools are would be anything but encouraging and attracting to impressionable pupils.
Recalling that it was my civic responsibility as a youth corps member to be an agent of change by contributing towards the development of my host community, I made assessment of the condition of the schools in and around my PPA and discovered that BLGEA Sanre was indeed a complete ruin needing renovation.
“The school’s major classroom block housing classes 5 and 6 and the administration office had cracked walls and holes in them, which harboured termite and reptiles; rains had washed off the painted walls; most of the ceilings were broken and the roof carved in.
“Whenever rain came, pupils and teachers abandoned classes and took shelter in nearby homes. The environment was not conducive for learning. It was on this basis that I took up the challenge of mobilizing members of the community and eventually renovating the block. Lots of time and effort were put in it, to God be the glory, everything turned out a success,” explained the corps member.
The beneficiaries of the project, Mr Abdullahi Abubakar, headmaster of the school and Salihu Sani, Chief of Sanre, thanked the corps member for addressing such a vital issue that had confronted them for a long time. They prayed for her for bringing succour to the community and for inspiring their children to see the need to go to school.
The Headmaster assured that the school management would ensure proper usage and maintenance of the refurbished block of classrooms. He disclosed that since commencement of the renovation, the enrolment into the school has doubled.
The PTA Chairman, Isa Adamu, commended particularly Miss Okuboarere for her kind gesture, promising that regular supervision would be made to ensure good use of the facility. He also commended NYSC for providing support to the needy through its national youth service scheme.
He lamented that since the inception in 1994, other than the state government through its agencies, the school and the community had never enjoyed this level of assistance from any organisation.
Despite the occasional shortcomings associated with the NYSC scheme, empirical evidence indicates that youth corps members who imbibe the ideals inculcated in them by the NYSC strive to contribute positively towards the development of their host communities.
Yearly, a good number construct culverts, bridges, classroom blocks, market stalls, health care centres, etc. They also take on projects like adult literacy campaign, extra-mural classes for students, HIV sensitization, and road safety campaign, etc.
This presupposes that the NYSC scheme is beneficial particularly in rural communities faced with intractable problems of socio-economic under-development.